Rescued dog becomes drug-sniffing deputy
GREENSBURG - The St. Helena Parish Sheriff's Office received two rescue dogs this month that will patrol the streets with their partners as they sniff out contraband.
The want has always been there according to Sheriff Nat Williams, but there was never enough money in the budget to purchase a drug dog. Traditional, purebred drug dogs can cost up to $15,000 once they are trained. In this case, a rescued Blue Heeler named "Gundy" cost the Sheriff's office $2,900. The Sheriff's office received grant money to purchase the dog.
In mid-January another dog will also hit the streets, try to sniff out contraband. The dogs are trained to look for marijuana, meth, heroin, cocaine and ecstasy. When Gundy detects contraband, he sits down to alert his handler.
Gundy was about to go to a shelter, when he was picked up by a new program called Universal K9. The program rescues dogs out of shelters and trains them extensively to sniff out contraband. Once the dogs are trained, they are sold or given to law enforcement agencies at deeply discounted prices. It's a win for the dog and a win for small departments like St. Helena Parish that don't have a lot of money.
"If he wouldn't be here, he'd probably be in a shelter somewhere and who knows how long it would be before his life ended," George Baker, Gundy's handler said.
Baker had to attend two weeks of training in San Antonio, Texas with Gundy before he could bring him back to Greensburg. Before that, Gundy went through four months of training by himself in order to pick up the finer details of spotting hidden narcotics.
"We was able to rescue the dog from a shelter, utilize him and give him back to the community," Sheriff Nat Williams said.
Over the past four years, the Sheriff's department has taken thousands of dollars worth of guns and drugs off the streets. Now, they hope two drug dogs will boost the tally of potentially dangerous narcotics taken off the streets of St. Helena Parish.